Saturday 10 December 2016

Ex-Goldman Sachs executive cleared of raping Irish student

Woman (20) had been staying in US on J1 visa

Orlaith Farrell

Published 30/04/2015 | 02:30

Jason Lee and his wife attending the court. He was found not guilty of raping an Irish J1 student.
Jason Lee and his wife attending the court. He was found not guilty of raping an Irish J1 student.

A former Goldman Sachs executive has been found not guilty of raping a 20-year-old Irish student at his luxury rental house in the Hamptons.

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Judge Barbara Kahn said there was a "heavy burden" to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Lee was guilty and the prosecution had failed to do so.

Mr Lee, who waived his right to a jury trial, remained motionless as the verdict was read out and he was acquitted of rape, sexual misconduct and assault. He had denied all charges.

The 38-year-old stood quietly behind his lawyer, who gave a brief statement to the press after the verdict at Suffolk Country Criminal Court

His attorney Edward Burke Jr said that his team were deeply troubled that a "false accusation" had gone "this far".

"The evidence was clear from day one and it took the judge less than 24 hours to render a verdict and dismiss all charges," he said.

Mr Lee, who had faced up to 25 years in prison if convicted, left the Long Island court flanked by two police officers.

Mr Lee remained tight lipped as he walk to his vehicle, refusing to answer questions.

He had been arrested two years ago at the luxury home he rented with his wife in East Hampton, accused of sexually assaulting the J1 student in the bathroom while her friend and brother partied nearby.

The pair met at local nightclub in East Hampton Georgica, before returning to Lee's $33,000 a month rental property after 4am on the morning of August 20, 2013.

Police were called to the house on One Clover Leaf Lane by a friend of Mr Lee's to deal with a separate incident and audio of the 911 call was played on the first day of the trial.

The woman's brother took the phone at one point and told the dispatcher: "I've got anther situation I need to sort out, a more important situation than a truck."

Lawyers for Mr Lee claimed he and the woman had engaged in consensual sex after partying together but the student offended her friend's "cultural sensibilities" when she emerged from the bathroom.

The student's brother may not have been aware that she was sexually active, Mr Lankler speculated during his closing statement - or may not have been able to "handle" his sister having a "sexual liaison with an older man of Asian descent".

Judge Kahn yesterday said that she had been "deprived" the opportunity to hear the testimony and "weigh the evidence of an important witness."

The brother of the student at the centre of the case had not returned to the US to testify because he had exams and a job contract in London.

The woman at the centre of the case travelled to New York to testify, and told Judge Kahn that her brother would do anything for her - but had to sit exams.

Prosecutor Kerriann Kelly added that the man was contractually bound to start a job in London straight after graduating and his education would be "detrimentally harmed" if he travelled to the US.

During the trial, which took place over the course of three weeks, Mr Lee's attorney told Judge Kahn that there were "clear and fatal" disparities in the prosecution's case.

It was claimed there had been a rush to prosecute and the victim had given "three versions" of the incident.

Reacting to the judge's decision, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota told reporters that the prosecution made every effort possible to convince the brother to travel to the US to testify.

"He gave us excuses which I believe to be so ... I can't account for the judge's thinking. That's all I can say."

Irish Independent

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